Being a catechist in the atrium reminds me a lot like how you feel when you want to see a very Disney girly princess movie, like Cinderella, but you are in your thirties. You are tickled that you have daughters and you can use them as an excuse to go and see said movie. You pretend the whole time you are doing the action for your children when in fact you are in it for you.
Yes, I will always joyfully admit that I love what I receive from the atrium. Yes, of course I believe this work is so good and holy and beautiful for these children, but I have to say that I am in it for my own spirituality as well. I love the Good Shepherd.
I love that the children at our parish need CCD and I somehow get to act like I am teaching them when I volunteer for CCD when in fact I am the one who is experiencing complete fulfillment and joy watching the Holy Spirit work in these preschoolers.
As a mother of five,
I will admit that I am not always the "prepared adult" I want to be for the atrium. In my first year of CGS I was always so worried about my own performance and now, I'm not sure if it's having three years of atrium experience under my belt or having five kids under age ten, but I am much more relaxed about the way things...well...unfold...when I have days where I didn't get to prepare like I wanted to.
So a few weeks ago, when Easter was still so fresh and the white linen cloths were on the prayer table signifying celebration, I needed to tote my six month old with me to the atrium. In my craziness of the day, atrium time approached and I did not have a bottle to leave with my dear friend Janet who watches my littles (their atrium is on a different day).
So...no bottle means...she goes with me.
I figured I would simply wear her and manage the best I could.
As my class of five and six year olds blessed themselves with holy water and made their way into the atrium that sunny late afternoon, they immediately noticed the baby.
"Is that yours?"
"What's her name?"
"Can I see her?"
Sure! I laid out her blanket and placed her on her back and all of a sudden three children were around the edge of the blanket. It was as if I had just rolled out a work mat and well... here was our new work...
I asked them to wash their hands and they all popped up happily and came back to the blanket just as happily.
"She is so smiley!"
"She has no teeth!?!"
"Look she is taking her socks off!"
And they all admired her and I thought the whole time...this is interesting, I wonder when class will start...
There were five children total now and one of the little girls looked up with her big brown eyes and said softly, "May I hold her?"
This fifth baby of mine is so USED to her siblings jostling and holding her it didn't phase her a bit to be passed around the blanket. Each child was so eager to have a turn with her. They giggled and were so happy to have a soft plump of a babe in their arms.
My Little Flower went twice around the blanket, the children were all very patient. She was very patient.
After passing her around, I thought we were at a perfect moment to finally get the children to part ways and find a work to settle into.
I never realized that they were settled...and the work was a baby.
They loved that she wiggled and grabbed her toes.
They exclaimed things like:
"Look her belly button! That is where she got food from you!"
They loved when she grabbed their fingers. They loved watching her try to roll over, coaching her. I enjoyed so much their observations because it was like I was experiencing my baby in a whole new way. I feel the Holy Spirit prompted me then with the thought that...
all the children in this particular moment on this particular day in the
atrium are the youngest child in their families.
They were the second, the third, the fourth child! They were the babies of their families! My baby was new and fascinating to them. She was something beautiful and new to touch. We have beautiful things to sort or polish in the atrium, but I was thinking back on this time and I realized that many children, especially young ones are told...
"Don't touch the baby!"
I was relaxed and so they were relaxed and it was just so natural to sit and watch the baby together.
They laughed with how much she drooled. They loved her babbling.
When we gathered around the prayer table and sang songs we OF COURSE needed to include her.
All the children did kind of naturally lose interest in her, especially since after about 20 minutes she did want me (and close), so I wore her. They were able to find the atrium work they wanted and all was as it should be.
I wanted to write about a baby in the atrium because I think it is a privilege to witness children wondering aloud because it prompts the adults, the ones who are so familiar and all knowing about the world, to wonder too.
I think there is something to be said about letting go of our own agendas and how things are supposed to run and just let the children lead us.
There was such peace with the baby. The baby who once was so small...small like those mustard seeds.
Babies seem to have the essence of the Kingdom of Heaven lingering in them, all saint, pure, happy. I am off to bed, it is so late, but I am so happy I finally got to share this! God bless!